2017 PGRSA Annual Conference

    The 44th Annual PGRSA Conference was held August 6 – 10, 2017 in Anchorage, Alaska. The PGRSA Annual Conference included oral and poster presentations of scientific research and allowed members of the plant growth regulation industry to exchange ideas and review presentations from leaders in the applied, basic and commercial fields of plant growth regulation.

    The 45th Annual PGRSA Conference will take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico from June 14 - 18, 2018. If you haven't renewed your PGRSA membership for 2017, do so today!

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  • 2018 Conference Invitation

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  • 2017 PGRSA Annual Conference Keynote Speakers

    • Dr. Alok Adholeya

      Mycorrhizal Applications LLC

      Alok Adholeya began his research carrier with PhD in Mycorrhizae-Rhizobium interaction studies to understand role of Phosphorus and Zinc uptake in tripartite system of plant-bacteria and mycorrhizae. Classical studies of mobilization of zinc and Phosphorous demonstrated by radioisotopes was much praised by scientific community in 1988. He continued his research carrier by focusing on developing mass production technology of Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and successfully first transferred this technology to an industry in year 2000. His simultaneously continued research in the area of mycorrhizal evaluation in Horticulture, agriculture and reclamation of wasteland have yielded many successful case studies and 183 research publication including one in “Science”. His work was cited on more than 3200 instances. He received many awards and recognitions and served on various committees, boards and scientific societies including International Mycorrhizae society. He is currently honorary adviser to TERI India and Honorary Professor at Deakin University Australia. He has been Director Research and technology Development at Mycorrhizal Applications LLC and based at its St Louis facility.

      Keynote Presentation.
      Production Technologies of Mycorrhizae: A Global Comparison and Future Potential

      Presentation Summary.

      The importance of mycorrhizae is well established for sustainable and more productive agriculture and horticulture activities worldwide. The commercial scale production of mycorrhizae particularly AMF’s (Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi) has been a challenge until recently. Various innovative technologies and methods were adopted to develop successful commercial production. Technologies such as Greenhouse in vivo, Hydroponics, nutrient film technique, Aeroponics and root organ culture methods were attempted. Success and failures, advantages and limitations will be discussed. Application of mycorrhizae in parallel has yielded many successful case studies which allowed global farming communities to adopt mycorrhizal application within their package of practices. A booming success is round the corner towards agriculture sustainability, resource use efficiency and economic benefits.

    • Dr. Jim Barrett

      University of Florida — Gainsville

      Historical Perspectives Keynote Presentation.
      The Evolution of the Use of Plant Growth Regulators on Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

      Presentation Summary.

      Poinsettias is a major crop in the international floriculture industry, and the evolving role of PGRs in the production of flowering crops was driven by the industry’s understanding of the use of PGR’s on poinsettias. The natural growth habit of poinsettias in the wild is a tall, poorly branched, small shrub not well suited for commercial container production. However, that was the style plant used in production until the 1970’s. During that period and since there have been major advancements in breeding to improve plant growth habit and reduce sensitivity to ethylene during shipping. A significant increase in demand for poinsettias occurred with the marketing efforts of the Ecke company, who was the major poinsettia breeder in North America. They tightly connected poinsettias with the Christmas holidays in the minds of consumers. The next factor allowing for the rapid growth in poinsettia production was the ability of the growers to control plant size using Gibberellin biosynthesis inhibitors, which are often referred to as growth retardants. One of the earliest commercial uses of chlormequat chloride was on poinsettias. In the early 1980’s the use of a tank-mix of chlormequat chloride and daminozide became important in warm climates and for more vigorous cultivars. Today paclobutrazol is the dominant PGR in ornamental production. During the 1990’s and 2000’s the industry learned to use a much more active chemical with a much greater demand for precession of methods of application, timing, and variations in optimum concentrations due to weather, cultivar, and cultural conditions. Learning to use paclobutrazol opened the industry to understanding more technical approaches to crop production and use of pesticides. This wide spread use of paclobutrazol and recent changes to recirculating irrigation water for environmental reasons has led to a major situation facing many commercial operations now is finding ways to remove paclobutrazol from recaptured irrigation water..

    • Dr. Meriam Karlsson

      University of Alaska - Fairbanks

      Meriam Karlsson is Professor of Horticulture in the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research and teaching activities are in environmental plant physiology with emphasis on practical applications for commercial horticulture under high latitude conditions. Special attention is placed on understanding relationships of temperature, light andenvironmental conditions for plant and crop growth, development and productivity. Guidelines and protocols are developed to support and improve efficient crop production in field, high tunnel-, greenhouse, and other modified controlled environments.

      Keynote Presentation.
      Locally Grown: Food Security and Horticulture in Alaska

      Presentation Summary.

      Short growing seasons, limited infrastructure, and high energy costs can be problematic for producing crops in Alaska. Research to extend production throughout the year using efficient production systems and technology is necessary to improve local fresh food availability and overall food security. Although horticulture production can be challenging, Alaska also offers unique opportunities for research into crop growth, development and management in a northern environment. For instance, effects of climate change have already been documented and the naturally large variation in day lengths and temperatures over the year allows for environmental stress and interaction studies. Information related to food availability, marketing and distribution in market- as well as subsistence based systems has applications for rural food insecurities throughout the United States and Canada.

    • David Beaudreau

      DC Legislative and Regulatory Services

      David Beaudreau Jr. is Senior Vice President at DC Legislative and Regulatory Services, a legislative and regulatory lobbying and consulting firm in Washington, DC. He is a co-founder of the U.S. Biostimulant Coalition, created in July of 2011. The coalition works with state and federal regulators, including the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials, EPA and other relevant stakeholders and regulators to develop a set of standards and a regulatory framework for biostimulants products. David has a degree in Political Science from Allegheny College and Master’s Degree in Political Management from George Washington University.

      Keynote Presentation.
      Production Technologies of Mycorrhizae: A Global Comparison and Future Potential

      Presentation Summary.

      The presentation will provide an overview of biostimulants: an explanation of what these substances are and can do; a look at the biostimulant industry: companies, economic data and growth projections; a review of biostimulant classifications with an explanation of regulation by varying regulatory entities; and a summary of the U.S. Biostimulant Coalition: who we are, where we’ve been, where we are headed. Mr. Beaudreau will also discuss the regulatory environment and provide an overview of U.S. Biostimulant Coalition engagement with state and federal regulatory officials to help harmonize and/or clarify biostimulant regulatory oversight.

    • Dr. Caroline Gutjahr

      LMU Munich

      The research focus of Caroline Gutjahr is the developmental biology of arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis, which special emphasis on the role of plant hormones. During her carreer she made several important discoveries in the field such as the functional conservation of common symbiosis signalling across the angiosperms, the important role of the karrikin receptor complex for arbuscular mycorrhiza formation and the integration of symbiosis and plant hormone signalling during activation of a key transcriptional regulator of arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis. Caroline Gutjahr studied Biology with focus on Plant Physiology at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany and the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She started working with arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis during a short stay in the laboratory of Paola Bonfante at the University of Turin, Italy. Subsequently, she did her PhD on arbuscular mycorrhiza development in rice in the laboratory of Uta Paszkowski at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland with the support of the prestigious German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). She stayed in the same laboratory for a short postdoc and then joined the LMU Munich as a research group leader. Here she secured the prestigious Emmy Noether fellowship, which allowed her to build an independent research group.

      Young Scientist Award Keynote Presentation.
      Phytohormone Signalling in Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Development

      Presentation Summary.

      Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) is an ancient symbiosis between plants and glomeromycotan fungi that is extremely widespread in the plant kingdom and provides nutritional benefits to both symbiotic partners. The plant receives mineral nutrients, especially phosphate from the fungus and in return provides the fungus with carbohydrates and lipids. In addition to increasing plant mineral nutrition the symbiosis has also been shown to improve plant resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Therefore, it receives increasing interest for application in sustainable agricultural practices with reduced fertilizer input. AM establishment is initiated by a bi-directional exchange of signals involving plant strigolactones and fungal chitin-derived signals called Myc factors. Following recognition, AM fungi form a hyphopodium at the root surface, enter the root cortex and form branched arbuscules inside cortex cells. The arbuscules are the key fungal structures, which release mineral nutrients to the plant. Root colonization by the fungus is accompanied by drastic plant cell rearrangements for accommodation of the fungus. Plant hormones are emerging players in the regulation AM development. I will present our recent findings on the role of the karrikin receptor complex and of gibberellin in regulating AM development.

    • Dr. Emily Merewitz

      Michigan State University

      Dr. Emily Merewitz is currently an assistant professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences. She obtained a Ph.D. in Plant Biology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey with a specialization in Turfgrass Physiology. Her research program uses molecular, biochemical, and physiological techniques to investigate plant responses to environmental stress. Her research focuses on phytohormone regulation associated with abiotic and biotic stresses of turfgrass species and the use of plant priming agents to promote abiotic stress tolerance. A range of stresses are explored in her laboratory including winterkill, ice cover, heat, drought, and salt stress. She has also explored potential pros and cons of plant growth regulator use in turfgrass management. Dr. Merewitz also teaches undergraduate Turfgrass Physiology and a graduate level course in Environmental Plant Physiology.

      Keynote Presentation.
      New Approaches and Uses of Plant Growth Regulators in Turfgrasses

      Presentation Summary.

      Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are widely used in turfgrass management. Identification of new compounds of utility to the turfgrass industry is needed due to market loss of available chemistries, changing environmental factors and diseases, and high performance expectations of turfgrass species. Polyamines (PAs) have been shown to have PGR effects and play a role in stress tolerance in some crop species. Prior to our research, it was not known how PAs may affect important turfgrass species. Therefore, a series of physiological and molecular experiments to understand the mechanism associated with PAs effect on growth and abiotic stress tolerance of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) will be discussed. In addition to investigation of new compounds, a major research objective is to evaluate new uses for PGRs orfungicides, such as abiotic or biotic stress tolerance, already in use in the turfgrass industry. For instance, we have investigated whether Civitas, mefluidide, propiconazole, and trinexapac-ethyl (TE) may promote cold acclimation and tolerance of ice encasement. Annual bluegrass (Poa annua), which is susceptible to winterkill damage, treated with mefluidide, propiconazole, and Civitas had a greater percentage of polyunsaturated FAs, with linoleic acid being increased by approximately 50% due to these chemical treatments compared with TE and untreated samples. Results from this study suggest that applications of Civitas, mefluidide, or propiconazole in the fall season may improve ABG survival of severe winter conditions. This survival may be associated with a shift in the FA profile towards more polyunsaturated FAs in crown membrane tissue.

    • Steve West

      Research Designed For Agriculture

      Steve West grew up in a multi-generational California citrus farming, ground and aerial application family. He attended Cal Poly Pomona where he studied citrus production, agronomy and integrated pest management and then went on to co-found an independent crop consulting and research business with his entomologist wife Lee. Research Designed For Agriculture has conducted 3 thousand field trials in North and South America over the past thirty four years including all types of pesticide efficacy and residue programs, irrigation trials, seed nurseries, traditional PGR evaluations, fertility, variety trials, etc. These days Steve's primary interest is the agronomics and most recently this has led to a significant amount of intensive field screening of bio-stimulants in the low deserts of Arizona and California and in the prairies of Montana. With the increasing interest in these types of products, Steve and his teams are getting ample opportunities to develop new and better systems for evaluation, integrating research methodologies and technologies with an understanding of production agriculture and real world practicalities. Steve believes, “We will not feed the world with better pesticides. Sure, they are critical, but they only protect what you already have. We need more than that. Tomorrow’s agriculture will need improved varieties and better ways to maximize their production”.

      Keynote Presentation.
      Experimentation as a Contract Researcher

      Presentation Summary.

      Mr. West's abstract will be available soon.

    • Dr. Maria Herrero

      Maria Herrero is the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Valent BioSciences LLC. for two decades. She is responsible for obtaining registrations for PGRS in 90+ countries around the world. .

      Keynote Presentation.
      Registering Plant Growth Regulators: Global Policies Worldwide and How to Work Within Them

      Presentation Summary.

      Commercial use of plant growth regulators (PGRs), whether naturally occurring or synthetic, must undergo an evaluation and registration by authorities in almost all countries of the world. Policies regulating their definition, development and registration vary from country to country. Regulators suggest that PGRs and pest control products must be fully and comprehensively evaluated through a probabilistic toxicology and environmental risk assessment process, with proven efficacy in controlled field studies. Yet, a lack of a uniform regulatory model adds to the complexity of bringing PGRs to the forefront in use and to the concept of using them in modern integrated pest management strategies. Proof of natural occurrence, or evidence that the compounds are structurally-similar and functionally identical to naturally-occurring compound permits a tiered evaluation process in many countries. For naturally occurring compounds, literature on metabolism, historical exposure by humans, non-targets, beneficials, soils micro-organisms, etc. may prove evidence of scientific justifications for not conduction specific studies even in countries that do accept a tiered evaluation system. A review will be given of regulatory study requirements by areas of the world. Constant attention must be paid as regulation continues to change worldwide and evaluation requirements increasing in scope.